Confrontation Experiences? - Incest Survivors' Support
Oct. 18th, 2007
01:28 pm - Confrontation Experiences?
Type your cut contents here.
Please consider this my letter of emancipation from your familial position of authority. If you prefer, you may consider it my formal declaration that I no longer acknowledge more than a biological relationship between us. In truth, the only other relationship we’ve had up to this point has been that of abuser / victim and, thanks to a good deal of talk therapy, time and medication, I’ve learned to stand up for myself and say enough. The abuse stops here. I will no longer extend you opportunities to inflict anguish.
With this letter, I openly avert all communication from you and visitation with you. This announcement may seem superfluous, since we’ve only had minimal contact with one another since Mom died anyway, but it is important to me and to my journey of healing.
You see, I have finally been able to confront my past; especially those parts that I’d avoided putting words to. After all, incest is such an ugly word, n’est pas? It’s no wonder I didn’t want to deal with it while Mom was alive. But that is the crime you committed against me. Those are the black memories I could never forget, but which I refused to name, choosing instead to run as far and as fast away from you as I could get. To try to BE as different from you as I could, given the inescapable similarities of our genetics. But until I could confront my darkest memories, sheer distance alone was never enough. I was bound to you as surely as any victim of Stockholm’s Syndrome ever was to his / her captors.
You’ve proven yourself to be a liar and a cheat and a bully, repeatedly, over the course of my lifetime and I’ve allowed myself to be perennially re-victimized while our mother still lived because of some misguided notion of family unity. Even after it stopped being an active issue with Mom, to “play nice” with you, I still worked hard to forgive every new offense you committed against me; telling myself you didn’t mean whatever you said / did to be as insensitive and hurtful as it was.
Like the abused wife of an alcoholic, I made excuses for your cruelty – enabling you to continue your pattern of abuse, just as surely as those who “love without limits” enable any other domestic abuser.
After Mom’s death, however, I experienced a PTSD incident which, in turn, finally allowed me to put words to my most painful memories … and that’s when my true healing began. Talking with other incest survivors helped me to understand that the only thing you ever really loved and appreciated about me was the way I rolled over so you could hurt me yet again. You could make up any story (no matter how unbelievable) and I, because my concept of love had been so warped by years of your systematic torment, I believed you because I wanted to! I wanted to believe that this time you were telling the truth. I believed in the myth of your love for me even though your every action indicated otherwise (screamed your disrespect and hatred of me, in fact!).
I see now that you were playing Lucy (holding the football) to my sweet, naive Charlie Brown. Time and time again, you were able to talk me into believing you because of my love for you; and time and again, you abused my trust out of your hatred and contempt for me.
When finally I realized that (in fact) you do hate me, I admit I was actually relieved. Relieved, because it made more sense for someone who hates me to harm me than for someone who professed love for me to terrorize me! And that’s precisely what I told my therapist … that acknowledging your hatred of me was a huge relief. I still don’t know why you hate me, but thanks to talk therapy I’ve put it into historical perspective and given it back to you: it’s your problem, not mine.
My therapist also wanted me to mourn the loss of my “ideal” sister and at first I didn’t know what he expected. Your ongoing torment of me, veiled in the verbiage of love, was the only sibling bond I had ever known. How was I to mourn something I had never had? So I started with polar opposites … for my ideal, I wanted someone as different from you as possible … someone who was strong and protective, not weak and oppressive. Someone who would take glory in my successes without feeling threatened by them. Someone who would help me celebrate, not someone who would humiliate me during a time of celebration. Someone who would offer advice when I needed it (and/or asked for it) to help me succeed, not someone who preyed upon me in times of weakness. Someone who would’ve wanted to be by my side during the best (and the worst) of times – but never to divert accolades for themselves (or to gloat at my misfortune). Someone who respected me and my boundaries, not someone who used me shamelessly. Someone in whom I could place my trust, not someone who betrayed my every confidence. Someone whose idea of love for me did not always include a sexual element, twisted and perverted by the abuse of familial power and authority.
And as I wrote this exercise of defining what my ideal sibling would be, I realized two things: (1) although I was effectively an “only child” throughout my childhood (2) I’ve been provided with many friends who’ve acted as siblings (sisters and brothers) the rest of my life. Frankly, it’s been a very long time since I “needed” you as an older sibling because there were so many people willing to take your place, and who’ve done a better job of loving me than you ever did!
Every negative image you impressed on me as proof of my defectiveness has proven false when tested in the world outside of our family: my bookishness, my physique, my hairstyle, my clothing, my interests, my choices, my sense of humor, my candor – none of my so-called failings have stood in my way of finding employment, happiness, true love, and true friendships. Going east for my 25th college reunion, getting to see friends with whom I’ve stayed in touch over the years (and the miles), and even reconnecting with people I barely knew then, but whose lives affected me profoundly – all this served to cement a vision of myself at odds with the portrait you painted of me.
I suppose I could laundry list all the things you’ve ever done to hurt me … but what would be the point? Item by item, they too are mere anecdotes in my history now. Based on our past conversations about what we remember from our childhood (when I actually admitted to you that the only abuse I remembered was at your hands), it’s highly probable that you won’t remember the same things that I do, anyway.
When I did share with you two of the less hideous memories, memories that were (even then) safe enough for me to put into words, you claimed to be horrified, claimed ignorance, and you became highly agitated, distraught. I ended up comforting you, assuring you that I had forgiven you. Afterwards, I felt dirty and used, without quite knowing why. In therapy, I learned that it is always inappropriate for me (as your victim) to provide you with any sort of comfort or help because of the authority / power imbalance inherent in our incestuous relationship; it only serves to further my own abuse.
This realization was a watershed moment for me because you’ve been hounding me for years to recognize and validate your alleged abuse. But because you perpetuated the cycle of abuse by molesting me, you forfeited any acknowledgement or validation I might have (otherwise) been able to offer you. You had the choice of whether to perpetuate the abuse or to let it stop with you. It was your choice to make, no one else’s.
If you need help with your issues, it cannot come from me.
When I sat down to finally compose this letter, I realized I have nothing to lose by writing and sending it, and everything to gain. You have nothing I want and nothing I need. Truly, you never did. A healthy, loving sibling bond was the only thing I ever wanted from you, and even though I’ve never known you to possess the qualities I desired in a sibling, there was a time when I still believed it was possible for us to develop a healthy sibling relationship as adults.
Unfortunately, I’ve come to accept that you only get close to me when there is something tangible for you to gain by exploiting our closeness. A predictable aspect of your predatory behavior. It grieved me to acknowledge the conditional nature of your dealings with me, but not for as long as I thought it would. Accepting even an unpleasant reality gets easier with practice.
I acknowledge I have no control over the past, but here in the present, I can effect change for the future. I can take control over communication with you on my terms, by ending it here and now, instead of waiting for you to contact me out of your need, and trying to deal with you in a reactionary fashion (as I always have) on your terms. Therefore, I will no longer accept your phone calls or your emails. Your snail mail will be returned to you unopened. I will make no efforts (direct or indirect) to stay in touch with you. I do not wish to be near you physically, although – since I no longer fear you – if circumstances dictate that we be in the same place at the same time, I will not change my plans to avoid you.
But the healthiest aspect about my journey of healing was the realization that I don’t care what your reaction to this letter will be. I’ve accepted that you may still be living in denial, telling yourself that I’ve misremembered or misinterpreted all the things you did to me … that they were somehow in my best interests. I understand … that’s what all pedophiles do. The fact that you are only 3½ older than your victim and/or were a victim yourself changes nothing. Being female and biologically related to your victim only makes your choices more reprehensible. Ultimately, I hold you and you alone personally responsible for all the abuse (sexual, mental and emotional) you heaped on me, from our childhood right up until the present time.
Your Sister in DNA Only,
... I'd like to hear from other people about how and if they've confronted their abusers, and what they got out of it (if they confronted), or why they chose not to (if they haven't) ... I'd like to know whether you chose to confront face to face or by letter, and what influenced you in your choice ... I'd also love to hear how other people in your family reacted (if they know) and who have been your biggest supporters (if anyone) ...
As much as I want to send the letter, I'm afraid I'll incite more emotional abuse than she is already capable of ... and I admit to everyone here that (even tho I claim not to be afraid of her), I part of me still is ... *sigh*
Thanks (in advance) for your input and your support ...
Current Mood: depressed